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M42 & M78 in Wide Field

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#1 JayKSC



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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:47 AM

Hi all,

Recently I decided to tackle a couple of observing and sketching projects I've put off for years - the Orion nebulae. I've specifically wanted to sketch the two most famous of Orion's nebulae, M42 and M78. Last Tuesday I was able to enjoy M78 for awhile. I sketched the object at 57x, which gives yields about a 1-degree FOV in my scope.

Posted Image

I was surprised with how well my little (77mm) scope showed this nebula through my severe urban light pollution.

After reading O'Meara's most recent deep sky observer's book, I was inspired to go after M42 and its nearby related NGC-designation nebulae. This has always daunted me, as M42 presents so much detail. So, last night I tackled the sketch with plenty of patience. What I did was to coarsely sketch all of the field stars first at 28x (with about a 2-degree FOV) and then sketch the nebulosity using higher power (57x) and with UHC and OIII filters.

I usually redo some of my stars indoors to correct for them being oval, but I took my time with M42 and its neighbors, so I didn't need to do this. All I did indoors was invert the image and adjust the brightness appropriately.

Posted Image

The sketch shows at least five objects. The cluster near top is NGC 1981. The faint nebulosity above center is NGC 1977 (which includes NGC 1973 and 1975, per O'Meara). M42 (NGC 1976) is obvious. ;) Just right of M42 is M43 (NGC 1982). Finally, near the bottom left is NGC 1980 - which is surprisingly bright!

- Jay
South Florida

#2 JayinUT


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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:56 AM


I think you nailed M78 with its twin stars and a notch in the nebula. I really enjoy your capture of M42 and the surrounding items. Excellent job as usual and very enjoyable to view.

#3 CarlosEH


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Posted 13 January 2010 - 10:22 AM


Excellent wide field observations of the Orion Nebula (M42) and M78 (Flame Nebula). M78 is not an easy object to observe. The Flame Nebula usually requires averted vision and dark skies. The field surrounding the Orion Nebula is very striking. Thank you for sharing it with us all.


#4 frank5817



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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:04 PM


These are fantastic sketches. It is obvious that you took your time and captured all there was to see with your scope. No one could have done it better. Superb!:waytogo:

Frank :)

#5 blb



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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:31 PM

Jay, these are great sketches. I have looked many times at NGC1977, 1973 & 1975 trying to see the running man. Your sketch looks like what I see every time. Strangely enough I have never looked at NGC 1980. NGC 1980 is so bright that I will have to look at it my next outing. I think M78 has always looked like two headlights in fog and you captured that very well. Thanks for sharing.


#6 ladip63


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Posted 13 January 2010 - 01:14 PM

Great job Jay!!!
I guess I better get busy on learning Gimp, so I can post mine.

#7 cpl43uk



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Posted 13 January 2010 - 03:54 PM

Really good captures and a great feel for what could be seen through the scope. I can almost plan my own observations from this sketch. Does the UHC make much difference vs the OIII?

#8 JayKSC



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Posted 13 January 2010 - 07:20 PM

Many thanks for your kind words, Jay (in Utah), Carlos, Frank, and Ladip63!

I was very surprised to observe M78 so well, as I've sought-out this object under much darker skies with larger scopes to no success. I think that my straining to glimpse the little galaxy NGC 1964 in Lepus that same night made a difference. After straining so much, my night vision seemed improved. M78 just leapt out! In fact, I could've swore I saw a sky brightening not due to any light pollution all about the areas nearby M78. It seemed as though the whole region had a faint nebulous glow to it. Maybe, though, I was just seeing things! :)

Buddy - Thanks! I never looked for nor saw NGC 1980 either. The only reason I went after this object was from reading O'Meara's description of it a few nights ago. O'Meara said that NGC 1980 (which is a reflection nebula) tends to be overlooked because of its proximity to M42 and because the associated bright star (Iota Orionis) drowns out the nebula. The trick to seeing it is to simply use averted vision. It's neat, as looking at the star Iota Orionis without averted vision makes it look like there's no nebula. As soon as you use averted vision, though, the nebula suddenly pops into view. At first it looks almost like what I'd call star glare. But after just a moment of checking, sure enough what looks to be a nebulous fog around the star is plainly visible. All the best in catching sight of this fun target!

Chris - Many thanks. I found that my UHC dims the overall view more than my OIII, but that's because of the specific filter brands I use (Orion UHC, Tele Vue OIII). As David Knisely has noted elsewhere on Cloudy Nights, the Tele Vue OIII is a very broadband filter compared to other OIII's. He recommends it more as a UHC than an OIII.

This said, I found that the fainter details within all of the nebulae and just seeing them was easier with the Tele Vue OIII filter than with the Orion UHC. The brighter areas of the various nebulae were more enhanced with greater detail with the Orion UHC (exception being NGC 1977, which seemed pretty much gone with the UHC).

:) Jay
South Florida

#9 rolandlinda3



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Posted 13 January 2010 - 10:19 PM

Very nice. M78 is a favorite of mine, although it receives much less attention than some of its neighbors. With astro video it is a ghostly non-uniform object with blues and reds that faintly show in certain places. Good catch.

#10 JayKSC



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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:07 PM


Much agreed regarding M78's unfortunate proximity to M42's splendor. This is surely a most worthy target for any scope or observing location. I've not seen M78 by way of astro video, though now I am curious.

- Jay
South Florida

#11 Odin


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Posted 14 January 2010 - 05:00 PM

WoW Jay... Excellent sketching... surreal... looking at the sketchs as if I'm at the eyepieces. Some of my favorite targets. Thankyou for sharing on My Cloudy night.

#12 JayKSC



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Posted 14 January 2010 - 05:50 PM

Many thanks, Odin! It's cloudy here now in South Florida and promises to be through the weekend, so I'll be enjoying deep sky views through other's sketches here, too.

- Jay
South Florida

#13 Jef De Wit

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:25 PM

Beautiful sketches! It proofs that there is a lot of fun in the sky, even with a small refractor. Well done.

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